Note that David started in catering at the age of 16 and spent 13 years at the iconic restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley (California) where sourcing has always been top priority, both from a human and taste point of view. In a nutshell, David Lebovitz has a trained, confident and demanding palate. This is surely why he admits that when he sits down in a countryside bar mid-ramble, he generally opts for a blond beer, because the quality is almost constant wherever he is. But when he goes out for a drink, this fine cocktail lover leaves little to chance. He is an expert customer who knows his subject: he carefully chooses the places where he drinks, their reputation and their specialities. He goes with carefully considered expectations, always with the same motto: simplicity is the recipe for success. He likes well-made classics. A form of product purity. Just like for croissants, which he enjoys when they are made with butter, plain and simple. So it’s unsurprising that one of his favourite cocktails is the Manhattan, a simple essential… but he also likes to add a twist: half gin half vermouth!
His American and French culture gives him some perspective on the French art of living when it comes to cocktails. That’s actually the starting point in his book Drinking French: in the United States, which has a big cocktail culture, French spirits are popular. In France, the richness of the country’s gastronomic and liquid heritage is taken for granted, no matter how unique it is. It’s a heritage that he finds fascinating. In Drinking French, he takes his reader on a journey of discovery, covering everything that goes into the variety and everyday life of drinking habits in France, from morning coffee to aperitifs, cocktails and other liqueurs. He covers French classics and rituals with the freshness of an insider who appreciates the “art of drinking” within the art of living. It’s a wonderful tribute.
Three of his favourite cocktail bars
-The Long Island Bar
A historic bar in Brooklyn, New York, which also serves food. It’s my “place to be” when I’m in New York. I spent a lot of time there when I was writing Drinking French, to understand the affection that people in the US have for French cocktails. They make the perfect Boulevardier!
Margaux Lecarpentier, the founder of the place, is a friend of mine. I love their simple, well-made cocktails. I’m a Martini lover. They are masters of the Martini at Combat.
-The House Garden
It’s close to where I live in Paris. I like the atmosphere and their low ABV cocktail offer. It’s perfect for drawn-out pre-dinner drinks.